Monday, 31 August 2015

Cubbies For 2015 World Series

I hold my hands up that i had no idea what the World Series was or who the Chicago Cubs were but Google have come to the rescue and i am now aware that it is a Baseball competition although it appears Baseball considers the World to be America. 
The only reason i found myself looking up the Chicago Cubs was because the World Series is due to start in October and in 1989, the second Back to the Future film had a reference to the Chicago Cubs defeating a baseball team from Miami in the 2015 World Series.
Wikipedia shows that the last time the World Series Trophy was sat in the Chicago Cubs trophy cabinet was 1908 and by all accounts they have as much chance of winning the thing as i have of becoming Mrs Johnny Depp but if the example of Tottenham Hotspur has taught us fans one thing, even the worst teams sometimes fluke it and end the season with a trophy so it mat be possible. 
Not only have the Cubbies got players with names like like Pedro Strop and Stalin Castro (he must play on the left side), the Cubbies also have fans such as Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, John Cusack and Gary Sinise.
So remember that you should practise winning because you should never rest until your better is the best it can be and never accept defeat, never quit and never leave a fallen team-mate.
Now let's get out there and throw some ball and do it not for yourselves but for Marty McFly, the man who played Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters and some women we never heard of in Britain.
Go Cubbies!!!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Chilcot

Sir John Chilcot has been coming under fire over the delay to publishing the findings of his inquiry into the Iraq war which seems a bit harsh on him because he finished his part a long time ago, its the others that are holding it up.
In a good old piece of Britishness, as the report is expected to heavily criticise a number of politicians, including former prime minister Tony Blair, Chilcott has given the people who are to be criticised in the inquiry the right to reply before it is published but the pre-warned are also pre-armed and it is them who are holding things up by taking their sweet time to get back to him.
As the clamour grows for an early release, Chilcot has made a pointed reference to the government’s obligation to provide 'all relevant documents' to the inquiry and 'documents which had not been submitted to the inquiry and which have in some cases opened up new issues'.
The Cabinet Office have declined to explain why government departments did not give all the relevant documents to the inquiry in the first place nor whether the inquiry has now received all the documents it has requested. 
It has also refused any release of the documents into the public domain on the grounds they will eventually be released alongside the inquiry’s final report.
As i said, seems a bit harsh to criticise John Chilcott if the Government are at best dragging their feet
providing him with the information or at worst deliberately withholding documents that may reflect badly on them and those about to be criticised considering it in their best interests to delay the report as long as possible and get all their ducks in a line for when the report is finally published.
I think it is a good thing that Sir John is not being pressured into publishing and that he is holding out for all the documents, just wish he would be a bit more vocal on exactly who is holding it up and making a statement that the Government may be withholding documents from him is a good start of where we should be pointing the finger.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Photographing The Moon

The Moon is on the move. It’s now around 18 times further away from us than when it was formed 4.5 billion years ago.
Without the Moon, the seas would have barely any tides, days will get longer, the Earth will wobble on its axis but most importantly i won't ever get the perfect Moon picture that i have spent months trying to snap on my Lumia phone. 
I seem to have become obsessed ever since i saw a Sky at Night show where the presenter took an amazing photograph of our closest neighbour with his smartphone camera and a pair of binoculars and have been trying to replicate it ever since.
At some point, most cloudless nights i have been fiddling about with the ISO and shutter speed settings on my phones camera to that as explained by the presenter and frustratingly trying to line up the camera on the mobile with the eyepiece on the binoculars.
Above is my best effort through binoculars but the next clear night i am going to break out the telescope and see if i can do better but those 4mm the Moon is stretching away from us every year could be making all the difference.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Last Weekend Of Summer

This is the last weekend of summer and to celebrate the end of the season, we get the last day off which softens the blow a bit that come Tuesday, it's September and we all go back to work.
It's goodbye to suntanned bodies and ice cream on the pier and hello to the long slog to the Christmas holidays and i'm fine with that as from mid-November to the end of December really is the best time of the year. 
No more dodging wasps, slapping on sun cream to leave the house, trying unsuccessfully to drop off to sleep on hot, sultry nights and third degree burns off the car interior.
It's almost time to put the t-shirts back in the wardrobe and dig out the jumpers and heavy coats
so this is the last weekend to fire up the barbecue and wear the flip-flops because as the Beach Boys lamented, Summer time is through and i can't say i'll miss it.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Female Only Carriage Idea

Typically just days after saying i agree with most things that Jeremy Corbyn says, he says something i disagree with, support fort all female carriages on public transport. 
On the face of it, the idea that lone female travellers can be made to feel safer by offering them a space of their own sounds a decent one but it does smell of prevention and not cure.
By providing female only carriages, the onus is put squarely on women to prevent the harassment they experience rather than treat the problem of men harassing women.
It is a relation to the depressing idea that women wearing a short skirt or drinking alcohol on a night out are somehow 'asking for it' and so any woman boarding a mixed-gender train carriage would end up being considered culpable if she is then assaulted.
The message seems to be aimed at women as 'don’t put yourself in a position to be assaulted', instead 'don't assault' where it should be aimed, at the men who do the assaulting.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Arresting Netanyahu

A petition calling on the UK government to arrest Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes in Gaza when he arrives in London has garnered more than 80,000 signatures. But David Cameron’s government says they can't because Netanyahu has diplomatic immunity.   
The petition, posted on the UK government’s website, has already been signed by over 86,000 Brits and when it reaches 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament but the Government has stepped in already with a statement that reads: 'Under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained'.
Although the Government won't do anything, i am sure that Mr Netanyahu will receive a warm and generous welcome from the British people, something along the lines of what George W Bush got when he last came here or Tony Blair receives whenever he steps out in public.
The petition is here.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Jeremy Corbyn Dilemma

It is a usually good thing that people have different thoughts on things although obviously if everyone shared my thoughts and ideals the World would be a much nicer place but unfortunately some people disagree with me so we have the train wreck of a right wing Government vandalising the country.
The Labour Party is set to declare its new leader and the very left-wing Jeremy Corbyn is placed to
pick up the mantle left by Ed Miliband and plonk his backside on the bench opposite David Cameron as the leader of the opposition. 
This does give me and people like me a predicament because i agree pretty much with everything Jeremy Corbyn stands for but i can't see him bringing across the voters who deserted the Labour Party at the last election.
With the SNP accounting for almost 50 former Labour seats in Scotland, Labour are going to have their work cut out to attract voters who went for UKIP or the Tories last time and Corbyn is too far from the centre to reel them in.
The predicament then is whether to vote for another candidate for the good and electionability of the Labour Party or vote for the one who most closely represents our views.
We can vote for Corbyn and stay true to our own values but see the Conservatives celebrating again in five years or go for Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper who tick less boxes on our values list but have a better chance of removing Cameron from number 10.
It should be a tough choice but the bottom line is we want to remove the Tories and we should vote for the one who give us the best chance of doing that and i'm afraid that isn't Corbyn so it's a case of wrinkling your nose while keeping your fingers crossed for a Yvette Cooper victory.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Less Perseid Meteors These Days?

This year was perfect meteor watching time with no moon polluting the sky so all that was required was to tilt the deckchair towards the W in the sky (Cassiopeia) and hope the clouds played nicely.    
Of the three premium nights, one had a thunderstorm of biblical proportions and one was just too cloudy to see anything but the main night of the 13th/14th August was crystal clear and we sat around until silly o'clock drinking hot chocolate and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the shooting stars.
Maybe it is like most things as you get older, but i am sure that when i stood in a dark field decades ago there were more meteors streaming across the sky then there have been in recent years. 
Where it would be the promised two or three meteors a minutes we witnessed, there does seem to be longer gaps between the flashes in the sky these last few years.       
We were in the darkest place in England on the main night so it can't be blamed on increased light pollution as it was impossibly dark and the milky way was easily visible above our heads but something seems to have changed.
As the Swift-Tuttle comet has been making visits through our planets orbit for millenniums it could be that the remnant stream is drying up as the comet shrinks slightly every 130 years when it comes back to fly past the Sun or possibly the comets angle has changed slightly by interaction with Jupiter or some other planet and we are not quite in the stream anymore.
It could just be that it is exactly the same as previous years and it is my memory that has gone wonky and not the comet at all.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Wasps

Modern Man has been decorating the planet for just over 4000 years and in that time we have developed computers, space flight and television.
Wasps on the other hand have been around since the Jurassic period, 200 million years, and to my knowledge they have not invented anything so it is a fairly safe assumption that if they were going to chip in with any thing at all, they would have done it by now.
I can think of no other use for wasps who seem to exist just to bother us humans whenever we step outside the front door and as far as i can tell we could wipe them all out with no damage to the eco-system apart from a few less eaten nymphs on leaves.
As i seem to have spent the best part of this summer shrieking and flapping my arms around like a demented windmill, i would like to put forward a movement to the European Union, United Nations, NATO or who whoever controls these things that wasps should be eradicated from the face of the planet.
I propose leaving a few thousand opened cans of Dr Pepper on an uninhabitated Island and then firebombing it therefore ensuring that picnickers will no longer be troubled by the spiteful little buggers.
Of course, if they are about to announce a new mode of transport fuelled by cold fusion or a time machine we should reconsider but if not, break out the Dr Pepper.  

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Bands Made In Heaven And Hell

So there was God and i sitting on his cloud and pondering what to get Jesus for his birthday. The little nipper has got everything he could ever want when suddenly the big guy hits upon the idea of bringing together the finest dead musicians in heaven for a Happy Birthday Jesus concert.
God being a bit on the lazy side (he doesn't do Sunday's), delegated it to me to set off and track down the best dead musicians for a five piece band.
I don't know many dead drummers, apart from The Who's Keith Moon and Led Zeppelin's John Bonham so i was about to plump for one of them until i remember the great drumming on 'Wipe Out' by the Safari's. Luckily for us although not so much for him, Ron Wilson died of a brain aneurysm in the 80s so i hand him the sticks and plonk him down behind the drum kit.
The bass player was a choice of another dead 'The Who' musician, John Entwistle or Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy. Lynott it is then.
Rhythm guitar was handed to Joe Strummer and lead to Jimi Hendrix with a warning to not do any of that weird feedback crap or he is out. And put that joint out hippy.
Frontman is a toughie. The ultimate in cool Kurt Cobain or the ultimate showman Freddie Mercury. Freddie gets the nod.
So my final line up for the best band made up of famous dead musical types is:
Ron Wilson (Drums), Phil Lynott (Bass), Joe Strummer (Rhythm Guitar), Jimi Hendirx (lead Guitar) and Freddie Mercury (Vocals).
First up on the playlist, "Sympathy for the Devil", that should go down a storm up here.
When he heard about the gig old Beelzebub himself sidled up to me and said: "You know that scene at the very beginning of Nightmare Before Christmas, the one where Pumpkin Jack comes back to his Halloween World after a successful nights Halloweening and they have a concert". I replied that i was aware of it.
"That's what we need here" he stated, leaning forward from his fiery throne and handing me an order to round up the best musicians presently residing in Hell for a Halloween Night Concert.
Never one to turn down a man armed with a pitchfork and horns, i set about getting together the best band from not so nice dead musicians.
Bass guitar was easy, girlfriend murderer Sid Vicious. Luckily he was on his way to Michael Jackson's house and Jackson was more than happy to join the band as lead singer.
Finding a drummer was proving difficult, especially as hammer wielding mother killer Jim Gordon was still alive but there was only one man to hand the lead guitar to, Lead Belly. Never a man to talk to his relatives when he could shove a knife in them instead.
Still leaves me struggling to find a drummer so i guess i will have to fit a drum machine until a notorious drummer turns up down there.
First song up, Knocking on Heavens Door. Old Nick will love that. 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

You're Fired

It's never easy sacking anyone but sometimes there is just too many people and not enough money to go around so the only option is to let someone go.
As we know, the global economy has run out of money so there are just too many countries and not enough money but which country should we wag the 'you're fired' finger at?
Maybe we can discuss it over a cup of tea (Chinese invention) coffee (Ethiopian invention) or a coke (American invention). Beer (Syria) and wine (Georgia) will also be made available.
If every country can send a representative and put forward a case as to what they have given that has benefited mankind, we can get rid of the one that has offered the least.
Those that can't get here by bicycle (German), car (German), plane (American) boat (Egyptian) train (British) or hot air balloon (French) can possibly link up via the computer (British) or telephone (British).
As we are waiting, maybe we can listen to a CD (Dutch/Japanese), read a book (China), listen to the radio (Serbian/American) watch a film (French), play a video game (American) or watch some TV (British) although i will have to get some batteries (Italian) for the remote control (American).
I have printed (China) the criteria onto paper (China) so we can sift through the evidence of who has not been pulling their weight when it comes to making our time here more bearable.
I would like to do it democratically (Greek) but i think out of the major G20 countries, there are two countries that stand out as not really having contributed much if anything.
Further investigation shows that Canada gave us the foghorn, gas mask, trivial pursuit, insulin, pacemaker and the Wonderbra which are all very important so i'm afraid that the decision has been made.
Unfortunately giving us the didgeridoo, dual flush toilet, a stick that comes back to you when you throw it and Rolf Harris just doesn't cut it so Australia, please empty your desk and form an orderly queue and make your way to the exit. Thank you for the...well... not much to be honest. You're fired.
Are they gone? Good, never liked them, always whinging about something. Right, who has the fireworks (China) and champagne (English)?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

When I Become The USA President

When i grow up i'm going to become the President of The United States of America and boy will there be some changes when i have my Barbie slippers under the Oval Office desk.
First up, the only thing the cold dead hands will be grasping would be thin air as guns would be licensed and the licence would have to be renewed annually and be set at an exorbitant price and so would the ammunition, i would tax it to high heaven so yes, you are welcome to own a gun but you will have to sell your first born to pay for it.
With that settled i would then ban that American tradition that drives me nuts of applauding after every sentence when someone is speaking. The amount of times i have given up listening to someone speak because the audience are so moved by the oration that they burst into applause whenever a full stop looms up in the conversation. Just let the man finish and then you can clap until your hands bleed for cripes sake. 
Then there is the 'have a nice day' thing which would be gone, gone, gone. While it is perfectly polite, it's just so fake. I imagine myself saying 'well i was going to have a crap day but you have gone and ruined that now, because of you i'm going to have to have a nice day, damn you shop assistant'. Anyone heard to utter the HAND farewell will be legally banned from dealing with customers for a month or until they learn that being so bloody cheerful first thing in the morning when all i am thinking about it how i can make sure my day is going to be crap is unacceptable.
With less Americans being shot, less clapping and no more nice days being said, it would be put to the vote that Hollywood can only make films with either George Clooney, Johnny Depp, David Boreanaz or Brad Pitt in them.
Possibly Kevin Bacon and Steve Martin but definitely not Jim Carey unless he promises not to pull silly faces in them. They also legally have to start remaking Buffy and Angel again with the original cast. I would also reduce the ridiculous amount of advertisement breaks in the TV shows, that must drive you guys crackers especially as i use the advert breaks to make a cuppa, i would wear my kettle out within a week after being there.
Finally, with my popularity blooming and the America voters hoping the law can be changed so i can serve a third term, i would hit them with the letter U being put back into words. Partly because it makes my spellchecker which keeps reverting to American English go into meltdown but mainly because IT'S A VOWEL.
Then, as i am in the death throws of my Presidency and before i leave to live out my time on a ranch in Montana, i would declare those idiotic people who turn up to Evangelist shows and wave their hands about and contribute to the speakers bulging bank balance mentally unsafe and unable to operate heavy machinery until they promise to stop being so silly.
That's my manifesto America, vote for me and never be told to have a nice day ever again. You know it makes sense.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Welcome To England

England, where those feet in ancient time walked upon England's green and pleasant land according to William Blake but the only feet here over the next few weeks will be guests visiting our shores for the 2012 Olympics.
Just as Frenchman wear striped shirts and berets and Germans exist on a diet of beer and sausage, what can our visitors expect from the English and are the stereotypes even close? Allow me to give you a heads up on us English so you are prepared.
The most obvious one is that we drink tea by the gallon and that's true. I am drinking one now as i type this actually so expect to see us with a mug or a cup and saucer under our nose at all times.
The second obvious one is we apologise all the time and that's another true one but sorry doesn't always mean sorry when we say it. It could mean i apologise for spilling you tea but it could mean could you repeat that or then again it could also mean i don't have a clue what you are talking about which leads us to number three, slang language.
The English have a perfectly good language but we do tend to use other words to mean something so for example a dog is a phone, Alan is knickers and plates are your feet. Don't worry, you will pick it up.
England is driven by class from the snobs to the chavs. If you have a big flash car you may think you will be applauded for working hard to afford such a delightful machine but not here, you will be called a flash git and someone will try and nick your wheels the second you stop at a traffic light.
Do mention the Second World War, we won that one so ignore the 'don't mention the War' mantra, mention it at every opportunity because we do.
There is usually confusion about what is Britain and what is England with most foreign people considering it the same thing. It isn't but it really annoys the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish and that's not a bad thing.
Finally you will see a lot of flags around, the English St George Cross and the Union Flag which you may think is very patriotic but in fairness, we have just not taken them down from the Queen's Jubilee.
So basically, to integrate yourself with the English while you are here, drink lots of tea and throw your empty cups at anyone in a big car while talking about the War and how much your plates ache and you will be fine

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Where Was That F**cking Place Again?

Not for the first time, it seems us English speakers have upset the Austrians, or rather one city in particular.
It seems we have been snickering, amongst other things, at their town name, the gloriously named City of F*CKING.
The Major of F*CKING has been ranting about English-speaking tourists acting out their village's name beneath the sign at the entrance to the town.
First up to defend us as usual is the Germans, with the top knob in the Town of W*NK saying that the F*CKING Major has got it wrong and he should be grabbing the opportunity with both hands as they do in W*NK.
'We have so many visitors coming to W*nk' he explained, 'In summer visitors can take hikes up W**k Mountain, or take it easy in the four seater W*nk cable car that goes all the way to the peak.'
Local tourism chiefs say they realised that their name was a goldmine when it came to attracting English-speaking visitors and sell plenty of W*NK postcards, W*NK sweets and ornaments to show their friends and family of the time they came to W*NK.
A favourite is the photographer who for a small fee will take your picture beside the 'Welcome to W*nk signs.'
The F*CKING Major is not taking the advice of the W*NK's though and is determined to crack down on disrespectful visitors by installing CCTV to deter tourists from lewd behaviour beside their roadsigns.
'We don't find it funny and just want to be left alone' he grumbled so remember that next time you are in central Europe, you are more than welcome to W*NK but make sure you stop before F*CKING.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Men..Bah!

Cody and I are always looking for ideas to write concurrent posts about but when he suggested we write one about the things that annoy us about the opposite sex, my first reaction was to cancel any plans for the weekend because i would spend all 48 hours typing. Then we decided to restrict it to just 5 which is just as much of a juggling act but here are the top 5 things that men do that make me want to swing a high heeled foot into their groinal area.

5. Not Reading Instructions. Manufacturers include instructions for a reason, to instruct. Men on the other hand seem to think that they go to all the bother of including this information into the box for some other strange reason because it is the first thing to get binned before hours of swearing, hitting things with a hammer and blaming the packers for giving us the wrong bits before the woman rescues the instructions and calmly points out that he has put piece D where Piece A should be and used the wrong screws in Section C.

4. TV Remote Control. All newspapers have a TV guide, there are even TV guides on the TV itself at the push a button but men prefer to dive-bomb through all 101 channels in two minutes in a never-ending search for a suitable landing spot while passing comments about 'chick flicks' and 'how you hate him' before, on the third time around, settling for some testosterone filled action film and falling asleep within ten minutes.

3. Catching Things In Their Mouths. What is the fascination with throwing things in the air and catching them in their mouths? Doesn't matter what it is, sweets, nuts, cigarettes, grapes, it can't go the short distance between hand and mouth without first being launched up too the ceiling and caught in your gaping gob. Presumably it is supposed to show off your coordination skills or something but it just makes you look like a seal except the seal doesn't spend the rest of evening complaining that it's eye hurts because your coordination went awry with that last walnut.

2. Toilet Aim. Man has invented missiles that can be sent hundreds of miles and land with almost unerring accuracy at a designated building but he can't aim his pee the short distance between his midriff and a toilet bowl. Heaven knows how anyone can stand slap bang in front of something with a drop distance of less than 2ft, and still miss. And would it kill you to put the seat down when you have finished?

1. Man Flu. Yes i know you are ill and yes you do look terrible and no i don't think you are going to cough up a lung and yes i will fluff your pillow and yes i will phone work for you and tell them you won't be in and yes i know it feels like your dying. Do you know how i know? Because you have exactly the same thing that i had last week when you told me i looked terrible while i was ironing your shirts.

Well it wasn't easy keeping it down to just 5 but i have sympathy for Cody who is posting about the 5 thing that us women do that drive men crazy on his blog. Personally i can't think of any.

Friday, 14 August 2015

They Put What In Our What??

Vegetarians everywhere are getting a bit of a glow to their otherwise pasty coloured cheeks as Mars alter their recipe to include animal products.
From this month, the chocolate manufacturer has started using rennet which is an enzyme taken from the stomachs of newborn calves, to make whey for its products.
Although this story has made quite a splash in the lentil eating community, their was an even bigger eeewww factor uncovered that has somehow slipped beneath my meat free radar.
What are your favourite Smarties?
Do you like the green ones, yellow ones or the blue ones. What about those beetle-coloured Smarties?
It turns out that red Smarties get their bright colour from a dye made from dried and crushed cochineal beetles. Just like my home-made rhubarb crumble, it leaves a particularly bad taste in the mouth.
After baby cows guts in the Mars Bars and crushed insects in the Smarties the idea of adding Folic Acid to bread as was mooted this week, sounds quite boring.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Tittles, Muntins and Zarfs

It was early in the morning and i was resisting the temptation to scratch the wet tittles (dot above the i and j) with my lunule (white bit at the top of the finger nail) to dry it quicker so as i waited, i absentmindedly watched the crepuscular rays (rays of sunlight) peek out from the dark morning clouds through the muntin (strip separating window panes), mouthing mondegreen (a misheard lyrics) to the Bob Dylan earworm (tune stuck in your head) that i heard on the radio earlier.
I rubbed my Glabella (the smooth part between the eyebrows) as the the fragrant petrichor (smell after rain) wafted to my desk from the pavement as i played with the ferrule (metal part on a pencil) on my purlicue (space between thumb and the forefingers).
My neighbour waved as he went past on his morning jog and i waved back and noticed his gynecomatia (manboobs) under his tight t-shirt which made me wamble (stomach rumble) and crinkle my philtrum (groove between nose and lip).
He was always up and about early, no dysania (finding it hard to get out of the bed in the morning) for him but that middle aged spread must make it hard for him to find his aglets (plastic coating on a shoelace) and armscyes (armholes in clothes).
The clock struck 7 and my tittles were now dry so i shook my head and closed my eyes until the phosphenes (lights you see when you close your eyes) appeared and the paresthesia (pins and needles) in my numb right leg eased.
After stretching my back while holding my arms akimbo (hands on hips), I took a swig from my bottle of water, holding it with my hand across the punt (indentation at the bottom of a bottle), it was time to go fetch my shoes. Shoes that fit are hard to come by when you have a Morton’s toe (second toe is bigger than your big toe) and it was almost impossible to get an accurate reading on a brannock device (unit that measures the size of your feet).
Now i was late and it still looked like rain so took the desire path (path created by natural means on grass), through the park to save time and using my umbrella as a cane, and with every step planting its ferrule (metal pointed bit at the end of the umbrella) in the ground, running through my late excuse in my head until it became semantic satiation (what happens when you say something for so long that it loses its meaning).
I stopped to buy a coffee from the coffee seller on the way, remembering to use a zarf (coffee cup sleeve) to protect my hands and an Aero bar, and only realising it was a mint one after the first bite and having to chank it (spit something out) and throw the rest in the bin.
Foregoing the usual bandinage (banter) with the coffee guy, i carried on to work thankful that i was megagaltastic (having a large vocabulary).

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Avoid These Words On The Internet

The American Government isn't spying on the US (and UK) citizens, it's carrying out counter terrorism efforts by collecting and storing virtually every Internet phone call, email, text message, Internet search, social media communication and virtually all other electronic information. That's okay then.
Obama is arguing that the surveillance programs have helped in the fight against terrorism and pointed to a specific plot against New York's subways which ruffled a few feathers at Scotland Yard because they said that it was them who passed on the information to the American Authorities that prevented the subway attack and not Internet snooping.
Obviously there are some words and phrases that if typed into Google will bring you to the attention of the authorities such as Assassination, Dirty Bomb, Militia, Terrorism, Anthrax, Ammonium Nitrate or How To Assassinate a World Leader but there are a host of innocent words that could also see you bundled onto an aeroplane and whisked off to Cuba and a fetching orange jumpsuit.
Luckily the Department of Homeland Security has released a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats.
The more of the 'alert' words the shadowy types find in an email or electronic communication, the further up the list of potential evil-doers you rise but some of the words on the list are seemingly innocent but hide evil intentions, such as Drill, Authorities, Stuck, Recruitment, Aid, Watch, Blizzard, Salmonella, Cancelled, Agriculture, Exercise, Subway, Recovery, Southwest, Landing, Cloud, Pork, Wave, Electric and Worm and the mention of North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, El Paso, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, China, Colombia, Mexico and San Diego which much play havoc with the San Diego Cloud Authorities email system.
I don't understand why the number 2600 attracts unwanted attention but if you are STUCK in the SUBWAY with a bad case of SALMONELLA from a PORK chop whilst on the way to a RECRUITMENT Day in the SOUTHWEST during a BLIZZARD, you may want to rethink sending that text or email.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

No Stereotypes Here

The BBC has apologised for the remarks in the car show Top Gear after a presenter said that the Mexican car would be like Mexican people, lazy, feckless, flatulent and overweight.
In a letter to Mexico's ambassador in London, it said that it was sorry if it had offended some people, but said jokes based on national stereotyping were part of British national humour.
Very true because we Brits do like to bash other countries over the head with national sterotypes but we always assumed that they quite liked it.
Living in a very metropolitan City, i was in the perfect place to find out just what other nations thought of our gentle ribbing of their characteristics.
I began by trying to ask my Jamaican neighbour but he didn't answer the door. Obviously he was washing his dreadlocks or he just had his Bob Marley CD turned up too loud to hear the doorbell so i moved across the hallway to Mick the Irishman but remembered that the month had a day in it and he would be drunk and trying to get into a fight somewhere.
The doorman is Spanish and i quietly tiptoed past him on the way out as not to disturb his siesta and was lucky enough to meet a German gentleman entering the building.
After exchanging small talk about what type of schnitzel he had bought for his dinner, i asked him if he found the British depiction of Germans as offensive. He replied that he had to be at home to iron his leiderhosen at 11:56 and as we had been talking for 3 minutes and 27 seconds he would not have time to answer but he had 4 minutes to spare between 19:33 and 19:37 this evening. I thanked him and as he walked into the building humming oom-pah music, i continued on my search for more nationals to question.
I asked the dirty, lazy, unshaven, curly moustached French man wearing a beret, striped jumper and carrying a baguette under the arm at the park but he just rudely ignored me as did the Scotsman but to be fair i did call him Miss and complement him on his skirt.
The Indian gentleman who runs the local newsagent was normally very chatty but his wife told me that he had packed up the family elephant and gone looking for Tigers on the South Downs but she expected him back soon because a good Bollywood film was on TV.
I considered asking the Italian man who runs the Pizza Shop his thoughts but he was busy adjusting his shirt to show his chest hair so headed to the Park instead where i found a few clog wearing homesick Netherlanders gazing at the tulip flower bed and discussing how there was just not enough windmills in Britain.
I decided what i needed was an Australian so on my way home i dropped into a random pub and as expected, found an Australian barman.
We got along fine at first until I inadvertently offended him by asking him if he had ever tried low alcohol lager and he angrily picked up his boomerang and stormed off saying something about taking the rest of the day off, i think he said he was going surfing or to find a crocodile to wrestle.
Suddenly realising that i had not drank a cup of tea for almost two hours, i made my way home and sat down to watch 'allo 'allo and reflect on how lucky the rest of the World is to have us Brits to disguise extreme, racist, bigoted xenophobic views as humour. God bless us

Monday, 10 August 2015

God Giveth & God Telleth You To Take A Hike

Due to the time difference between the South coast of England and Beijing, the Olympics will be played out to the UK insomniacs and people who crazily follow the 'early to bed early to rise' model of sleeping. Personally i follow the 'late to bed and prompt use of the snooze button followed by a mad dash to get ready and then walking around on auto-pilot until the 5th cup of coffee kicks' model.
My Olympics will then be the edited highlights in the evening which is not a bad thing as i will miss all the waiting around between events usually filled by banal chatter between someone who once came 7th in the 200 metre breaststroke and Michael Johnson wearing those shiny shirts he has a preference for and discussing how we can't pass a relay baton for toffee.
One thing we will still have foisted upon us and which annoys me beyond distraction, are the athletes who thank God for whatever colour medal they end up with.
The general gist is that God is sitting upstairs mulling over a long list of athletes and deciding, 'That Usain Bolt is a nice fella and all, but Tyson Gay is kind to his mum and there was that time he saved that badger. Gay it is then.'
If this continues i want to hear from the athletes who God decided are not worthy of receiving a medal.
I want to see the bitter 200m runner shaking a fist up at the sky and blaming God for their disappointing 6th place in the qualifying heats.
Make no mistake, if you win, God did it because he had decided that you are a worthy Olympian, if you don't win it's not because you skipped all those training runs when it was a bit cold and raining, its because God doesn't like you and thinks you are a bit of a git.
Yep, make no bones about it, if you leave Beijing empty handed it's because God really screwed you over this time. Maybe you should try one of the other deities next time, Muhammad seems to do quite well for the Ethiopian long distance runners so maybe he has an opening for someone in the One Person Dinghy, Laser Class. Might be worth a try.
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Sunday, 9 August 2015

Differing Movies Tastes

There are many differences between men and women.
Not only are we better at driving, handling 2 X chromosomes, multi-tasking, reading instructions and looking at our hair in any shiny surface, we also have a better taste in movies.
A SkyTV survey of film buffs has found that Star War for men and Dirty Dancing for women were the tops for repeat viewings.
Action films Alien and Die Hard were among the top male choices, along with sci-fi film Bladerunner and jaunty mafia romp The Godfather.
Women are more likely to watch Grease, The Sound of Music, Pretty Woman and It's A Wonderful Life over and over again.
Sorry guys, but you can take your Millennium Falcon and your light sabres and stick 'em up your Wookiee.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Poetry War

As i have stated here many times, i dislike poetry. I especially dislike poetry that doesn't rhyme which seems the whole point so just to annoy me, the man formerly known as the Archbishop of Canterbury and now just plain old Rowan Williams has written a poem about organ donation of all things.
He does give a detailed explanation of what the poem means but doesn't mention once how none of it rhymes and if you have to explain it then you have obviously missed the point.
The poem is called 'Host Organism' and begins:

I have been living
under the layers
of grain and moisture,
earth in my nostrils
and the years ahead
sitting like hard
pebbles in my gut,

and then it just meanders along for another 12 lines not rhyming and mumbling about birds dropping seeds.
Call me old fashioned but poetry is easy, any idiot with a basic grip on the English language can make lines that rhyme so to prove my point, here is my effort which i have called 'My Heart Won't go on'.


To die before you think your ready,
isn't what anybody would like,
But if you're ladder feels unsteady,
Or you own a motorbike.
There are ways you can help lots of folk,
Be patched up as good as new,
As they unwrap you from the massive oak,
They can take bits from what's left of you.
If you fill out a donor card today,
Your life won't be greatly improved,
But when you arrive at that fateful day,
You'll be dead with nothing to lose.
Your organs could help all of society,
If your bike slips away in the rain,
But if you're a fan of Spurs or Man City,
Nobody will want your brain.

Friday, 7 August 2015

A Lifetime Of Stats

"Stats can prove anything" so says anyone who is losing an argument but there was a programme on the ever excellent Channel 4 the other night that bombarded the viewer with a bunch of stats that made you go 'hmm'.
Ever wondered how much milk you will drink in your lifetime? 15,913 pints apparently.
Here is what the average person gets up to in his or her lifetime.
We fart 35,815 times which is not surprising as the average person eats the equivalent of 15 pigs, 5 cows, 1300 chickens and 23 sheep. The vegetarian trouser trumpets could be accredited to the 10,866 carrots, 4,398 loaves of bread, 14,856 eggs and 5,757 apples we scoff. Still, the aromatic smell emanating from our backsides doesn't put us off having sex 4,239 times.
We will drink 7,153 pints of beer, 79,481 cups of tea (it was an English show) and 998 bottles of wine all which means plenty of trips to the lavatory to rid ourselves of 254 litres of urine.
We take 7,163 baths and use 302 cans of deodorant (numbers may vary in France obviously). Everyone knows 1,700 people in their lifetime and spends £1,537,380 with £12,924 of it going on clothes. Smokers inhale 77,000 fags and we will know 25,000 words but will speak 56,618,100 words.
Don't know how they worked it all out but i may have to borrow some cigarette and alcohol allowance off somebody.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Summer Holiday

With the wagons waiting to be packed, we will soon be setting off to the darkest part of England to watch objects enter our atmosphere and burn up as a streak across the night sky.
Last year i wrote posts regarding events which happened that day in history and scheduled to post themselves everyday through August.
I didn't think i could do that again, especially as i had picked the most juiciest to write about last year so i was a bit stumped what to do with the blog from tomorrow until the 20th August when i get back from our jaunt around the British Isles.
I did toy with the idea of just making up news events and writing about them as if they were real but decided it would just be much easier to do what the television stations do and just put up some repeats.
Enjoy August and see you at the other end of it.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Missing Final Page Of Religious Text Found

Israeli archaeologists say they are trying to decode ancient inscriptions written in Hebrew script discovered at a dig in Jerusalem.
The writing was found on the walls of a room containing the remains of a Jewish ritual bath believed to be about 2,000 years old.
Experts are now trying to decipher words and symbols as they may have some religious significance.
I can save them the bother as it is the long lost final page from all religious texts and states:
'All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental'.
There you go, i saved you all that bother.

Back Of The Net

I am off to the countryside to watch meteors next week so we will be travelling Saturday and will miss the big kick off as the new football season starts this weekend.
Football fans usually have their own team and a few others that they look favourably upon and some for no particular reason that they hope get stuffed week in and week out.
Without a reason i can think of i have always disliked Leeds and Newcastle. Southampton are the local rivals of where i grew up and hating the 'Scummers' is bred from a young age.
Manchester United are just hated by everyone and Tottenham are my teams rivals and the guy at work who gives me most grief about football is a Spurs fan so it is always nice to see the results come in and hear they have blown it again.           
Chelsea have quite recently joined my 'hope they lose' list but that is mainly because i hate the idea of John Terry winning anything and the manager, Mourinho, has become such a moaner it is funny to hear him blame everything from the state of the pitch to the rotation of the earth when his team loses.
As well as Arsenal and Portsmouth in my 'hope they win' column, i like to see Bournemouth and Brighton do well and i have always quite liked the original up and down team Crystal Palace.
The rest i have no love or dislike for but i am sure as the season goes on my lists will chop and change as events unfold especially as i think Arsenal have a chance at glory and Pompey seem to be getting their act together finally and may clamber out of the bottom league.
Throw in the fact that boring boring Chelsea seem to have a forward line that seems destined to be injured for good parts of the season and Manchester United have the same defence that was hopeless last season and it may well be Jack Wilshire on the team bus come next May singing cheeky songs about Tottenham while parading the Premier League Trophy.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Why now?

Autumn 2008 and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is in dire economic trouble and the recipient of a £46 billion by the Government in exchange for a 78% stake, a cost of 502p per share.
Eight years later and the man in charge of the economy decides that now is the right time to cash in some of those shares and in a magnificent bit of dealership, sold 5.4% of the stake at 330p a share, a loss of £1bn on what the Government paid for them.
To fend off the criticism, George Osborne has tried to justify the substantial loss on the shares by saying it was the right thing to do for the British taxpayer and the sale raised £2.1bn to set off against the deficit.
It was also argued that the rescue of RBS in 2008 was not an investment, but was an emergency measure to prevent Britain’s banking system collapsing into the abyss.
All very true but we may ask why the rush to sell them now?
The RBS shares were trading at above 400p as recently as February and so by no stretch of the imagination has Chancellor got the British taxpayer value for money.
We still hold 73% of the bank and if these shares are sold at the same price then for our £46bn outlay, we will receive £31bn and take a hit of £15bn.
Why Osbourne had to sell them now to private investors, when the price is at its lowest, should be asked and when the Government severe cuts to welfare and tax credits start to bite, it should be remembered who cost the country another £15bn.

Super Typhoon Soudelor

Super Typhoon Soudelor is barrelling towards Taiwan, Japan and China and is the most powerful storm of the year with wind gusts up to 220mph.
Widespread damage is expected in East Asia over the coming days as the Typhoon tops the category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale which measures storms with winds over 156mph.
According to the boffins at the National Hurricane Centre, there is no upper limit to wind strength but
physics dictates that based on atmospheric and ocean conditions, the top wind speed possible is 190mph with gusts reaching 231mph.
That puts Typhoon Souldelor almost at the maximum wind speed possible today but as the earth continues to warm resulting in warmer seas which fuel the size and strength of hurricanes, the potential for even more damaging wind speeds increases, 5% for every 1 degree Celsius increase in ocean temperatures.
Just as Australia had to introduce a new temperature scale recently as the heat climbed off the scale, meteorologists will need to introduce a Category 6 as the devastating effects of climate change continue to ramp up.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Animals Fight Back

It is always amusing when someone who sets out to hurt something then gets hurt themselves and it goes up a level when a hunter ends up the one hurt instead of the animal.
A Texan is currently the proud owner of a wired jaw after he fired his gun at an armadillo and the bullet bounced off the mammal and struck him instead.
He told authorities he fired his gun three times at the armadillo but one of the bullet ricocheted off the animal’s hard-shelled armour and rebounded into his face, breaking his jaw.
There is an even happier ending as the armadillo got away while he made a trip to the local hospital to get his jaw wired.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Puerto Rico The New Greece

Orange is the new black, Pluto is the new Mars and Puerto Rica is the new Greece as it defaults on its debt repayments.
The island paid just $628,000 toward a $58m debt due to creditors which total $72bn and wheeled out a a poor minion to explain that: 'This was a decision that reflects the serious concerns about the Commonwealth’s liquidity in combination with the balance of obligations to our creditors and the equally important obligations to the people of Puerto Rico' which echoes the Greek argument that they can either pay their own people or their creditors but not both.
The Governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, explained last month that Puerto Rico was in a 'death spiral' and it just could not pay back what it owes.
Just as in Greece, the creditors are calling on Puerto Rico to cut spending on education and in other areas in order to meet their obligations and the island has already closed down almost 100 schools so far this year.  
As Greece ended up being totally screwed over the by people it owed money to, forcing privatisation and raising tax rates in return for another loan to cover the last one, Puerto Rico's population can expect the same amount of compassion as it's testicles are metaphorically placed in the vice of Capitalism and the handle slowly turned.